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Separatists strike hits normal life in Valley

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Srinagar, Aug 15: A strike called by separatists against Independence Day celebrations affected normal life in parts of Kashmir today even as stringent security measures remained in place across the Valley.

Shops, private offices, fuel stations and other businesses were shut in Srinagar and major towns of the Valley. Schools, government offices and banks also remained closed in view of a public holiday.

Srinagar city wore a deserted look as vehicles remained off roads. Only a few private cars were seen plying.

The separatists under the banner of Joint Resistance Leadership comprising Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik had asked people to observe a “black day” today.

Police and paramilitary forces were deployed across the Valley, especially at sensitive places, to maintain law and order, police said.

Authorities had also barred mobile telephone services, including Internet facility on handheld devices, as a precautionary measure.

Only BSNL landline service and its wired-Internet facilities were working, officials said.

Barring the services was part of the security drill on the occasion of the Independence Day, the officials said. The services were restored after the official functions ended.

The authorities have been clamping down on mobile services on the occasions of Republic Day and Independence Day in Kashmir. The security agencies added this step to the security drill after militants triggered a blast outside Bakshi Stadium during the Independence Day parade in 2005.

Security check-points were also set up at all the major intersections in the city to prevent any militant attacks. Whatever little number of vehicles plied were stopped and frisked before crossing these checkpoints..

Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium, the main venue of the I-day parade, was placed under siege with a three-tier security to thwart any possible militant attacks.

Barricades were erected on all roads leading to the venue.

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